The Angel's Share - Brandy Barrel-Aged - The Lost Abbey

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The Angel's Share - Brandy Barrel-AgedThe Angel's Share - Brandy Barrel-Aged

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very good

648 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 648
Reviews: 418
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 19.79%
Wants: 181
Gots: 172 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
The Lost Abbey visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jason on 04-23-2008

Down in Kentucky and across the pond in Scotland, distillers who age their whiskeys for many years refer to the evaporation of the spirits from their barrels as “The Angel’s Share.” We couldn’t agree more. Each time a barrel is filled, a measure of liquid seeps into the oak and is lost for good.This striking Strong Ale is brewed with copious amounts of Caramel malt to emphasize the vanilla and oak flavors found in freshly emptied bourbon or brandy barrels. The beer spends a year in oak before it is packaged for release.
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Ratings: 648 | Reviews: 418
Reviews by Em30:
More User Reviews:
Photo of ricke
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage.

A: Very dark brown with small ruby edges, basically opaque. Absolutely no head, no lacings, nothing happens when I swirl the glass.

S: A decent amount of boozy brandy aromas. Fudge, caramel, vanilla, wood and brandy. You can really tell that the beer suffers from the lack of carbonation, it's like the aromas are stuck without the ability to hijack the carbonation and escape the liquid. Too bad, but still a good smell.

T: The taste is better with more things going on. It's very sweet with lots of brandy notes. Vanilla, fudge, dark caramel and nice oak barrel flavors. Some fruit aromas and raisins. The finish is really boozy with a brandy-like character. Quite an intense flavor, that's just slightly too boozy.

M: Full-bodied, sticky texture. Absolutely no carbonation, completely flat.

D: Although it obviously suffers from the lack of carbonation, it's still a really good beer. Perhaps it could have been slightly less boozy, but the brandy flavors give it a rather rich character.

Photo of TCHopCraver
4.31/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes on 8-21-10. I tried this with TCGoalie, zoso1967, and BuckyFresh at a fun tasting get together. Thanks to zoso for bringing from PA and to both zoso and Goalie for sharing their bottles.

A: Pours a dark brown to black hue with no head into my oversized wine glass. The beer is definitely lacking carbonation and leaves me wondering if it is flat. A swirl of the brew leaves wine-like legs in arches down the sides of the glass. There is no lacing.

S: This beer provides a giant impression on my nose. A ton of chocolate, molasses, brandy, and oak just explode into my olfactory. The smell alone is intoxicating! Sweet dark fruits, brown sugar, alcoholic heat, and an old house mustiness accompany the aforementioned aromas.

T: The brandy really pops at first, followed by the rich chocolate and molasses flavors. Throughout the sip there is a sweet alcoholic heat that complements the other flavors. The finish is surprisingly dry with how much of that sweet alcoholic heat there is. A tartness accompanies the drying finish.

M: At the same time, this has a sweet coating sensation on my palate, but is also surprisingly thin for how high the a.b.v. is. Despite that thinness, the beer does tantalize the entirety of my palate.

D: I would certainly have another and really the smellability of this beer tips the drinkability scales for me. I absolutely loved the scent. This is a very interesting and complex beer.

Photo of brownbeer
4.37/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Falling Rock.

A- Dark brown, no head.

S- Nose is prunes, maple syrup, dark fruit.

T- Flavor is similar to a tawny port. Rich molasses, imported chocolate, bold and definately tastes so.

M- Not much by way of carbonation but that lends itself to being soft and smooth.

D- I personally would want to split a bottle several ways due to the rich nature. Also, the fact that one should share something so awesome.

Photo of weatherdog
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage had side by side with Angels Share Grand Cru with a huge thanks to Tony for providing it at a March tasting.

The cork popped off with a hopeful whiff of gunsmoke and it poured into the glass with some carbonation but eventually looked lifeless. The color was a muddy deep brown.

The nose was heavy on the brandy and alcohol with some minor oak and vanilla notes.

The flavor was once again huge on the Brandy. Besides that there was some oak, vanilla and port type flavors. The flavor was pretty dominant on the Brandy which was too overpowering. I would really like to have tasted more of the base beer.

The mouthfeel was full and while there was a noticeable lack of carbonation I felt it didn't hurt the beer too much. Sure some more would have been appreciated but I don't think it took much away from the beer. The dominant Brandy and alcohol flavors hampered the drinkability to me.

I'm really happy as to have tried this and having it side by side with the Grand Cru was a great experience. I just wasn't digging this version too much and when price is factored in I don't see myself picking up more of this. On the other hand the Grand Cru version was outstanding and if you have the chance to try it I would highly recommend it.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage bottle in the new 375ml bottles.

Pours into my glass a deeply dark brown with some garnet highlights and a wisp of light tan foam that quickly fades, small bubbles rise up from the bottom. Aromas start with an enticing mix of dark sweet malts, raisins, oak and a healthy dose of brandy. Sweet ripe fruits meander with plum, vanilla and touch of anise and tobacco. Lush and vibrant.

First sip brings smooth, sweet dark malts with raisins, ripe fruits, oak wood tannins and a swirl of warming brandy that really shines through. Caramel accents along with vanilla and a touch of tobacco. Spicy and a tad earthy. Flows down and finishes with a beautiful meld of oak and brandy. Warming and downright delicious.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a bit slick. Carbonation is mellow but well placed for the style and ABV in my opinion. I really wouldn't want it more carbonated. A 375ml bottle is the perfect serving size for this and I really am enjoying this years bottling. Decadent.

Photo of Beaver13
2.04/5  rDev -46.9%
look: 1 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12.7oz bottle, 2009 version. Pours a dark brown black with a little fizz for a head that quickly disappears completely.

The aroma is dark fruits, bready chocolate and molasses, some vanilla and a harsh medicinal alcohol.

The flavor is sweet sugary plums and figs and vanilla with some bready malts and a harsh alcoholic bitter finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with no carbonation.

Overall, it's interesting with a lot of complex flavors, but it's way too over the top for me, esp in alcohol and sweetness - more like a liquor than a beer. Tastes a bit like plum or fig cough medicine.

Photo of tjthresh
4.52/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown/mahogany with a brown head. Heavy dark friut aroma with lots of oak. Rich, and very malty with lots of fruity goodness up front. This was the last beer of a long night of sampling for me and Mike. Hopefully I will be lucky enough some day to have another bottle of this fine beer.

Photo of Billolick
4.67/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, on tap at the EBF, this past Saturday. The only brew I took notes on all weekend. Enjoyed 2 large sized samples that were truly savored. Poured burnt dark chocolate, near black, under a fierce looking dark tan head, sticks and sticks and emits loads of raisins and bourbon to the waiting nose. Rich, chewy and complex in the mouth and around the tongue. I picked up luscious notes of more raisins, dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, ripe dark fruits...lovely beer....

Photo of badbeer
1.98/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Very dark brown, almost black. Light tan head with a ring around the glass, no lacing left behind. Smell of brandy, figs, prunes, vanilla; quite sweet. Brandy and some oak greet the tongue intitially, leading into vanillia, figs, and dark fruits. Thicker than medium body, with carbonation on the lower side. Solid beer, but not exactly what I thought it might be. Perhaps some age will develop it more.

Update: I've gotten to try some bottles of this that were not good at all.

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

2009 vintage. The beer pours dark brown with only a few bubbles. Looks like this is one of the flat Lost Abbey beers. The aroma is brandy, oak, maple and alcohol. The flavor is even better with a lot of maple notes as well as some oak. You also get a lot of vanilla, brandy, dark fruit chocolate and alcohol. Very low to flat carbonation and a medium to thick mouthfeel. Even with the bottle conditioning issues, this beer was very good. It was sampled side-by-side with a 2010 Bourbon Angel's Share and this beer was superior in my opinion due to the strong maple notes.

Photo of magictrokini
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours darker copper, slightly hazy, with a small ring of bubbles around the edges. Alcoholic nose, mostly brandy. Slightly medicinal, oaky, and a hint of pine tar. Lovely, creamy feel. Brandy up front, but not as powerful as in the bourbon barrel version. Vinuous flavors of red wine and fresh white grapes throughout. A bit of cream and vanilla, and a warm, alcohol finish. I thought this was superior to the bourbon barrel.

Photo of ehammond1
4.36/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap

Lost Abbey
San Marcos, CA

A dark brown and murky pour with a very thin head. Not much lacing on the glass.

A wildly complex and divine aroma. Deep chocolate, dark fruits, warm alcohol, sweet brandy, tart cherries and raisins--all these flavors are here and they all mix superbly well together. It's really something to behold.

The flavor is again complex, and my only complaint is that it's just a little too sweet. The rich chocolate, flavors of cherries, sweet and warming brandy, along with a touch of tartness are really spectacular.

A thick and substantial sipper--but it's the only mouthfeel that would allow for the substantial complexities found in this beer.

An incredible display of art in the glass. So many incredible flavors and aromas all come together for a near masterpiece of a beer.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.06/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jh1982 for breaking this out for the Marquette/Syracuse game during March Madness. Sweet 16 baby! Pours much darker than I expected, looked at the bottle again to make sure this wasn't the bourbon. Low carbonation, but didn't expect much, and would say it didn't really seem to have much impact on the beer, this seems like one meant to have very little carbonation.

Good oak and vanilla aromas complementing the brandy. Also chocolate?

Taste, nice, a little sweeter than the bourbon version, a definite sipper. Licorice and chocolate seem there. Wood flavors. Raisins. I think I like the blended version better.

Photo of whoneeds8
4.72/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Bottle

Big thanks to my Big Sister for getting this for me last year on a trip to San Diego for my birthday. We waited a year because of the carbonation problems last spring. Poured into a chalice jet black with no head. There was no pop when I popped the cork. The smell is strong of brandy, which overpowers any of the malted sweetness that may be present. That isn't a bad thing. The taste is of strong brandy at first with malted sweetness. The lack of carbonation is not a problem at all. Infact, I shared this with my sister and brother in law and they both compared this to drinking a dessert brandy. Which as we all know has no carbonation.

My brother in law, who isn't a BA, even asked why she didn't buy two bottles because this is his favorite non macro beer I've given him.

Photo of daveytheformer
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from notes. Poured into a stemmed Lost Abbey tulip

Pours a brownish black with a vry thin khaki head that quickly fades to very light lacing with almost no spotting.

Smells like raisins, caramel, vanilla, figs, sweet chocolate, a little vinous, some brown sugar and quite boozy.

Tastes are more raisins and other dark fruits, vanilla, caramel, oak, a little bit sour (only slightly), and a nice roasted malt flavor blending very well with all the booze.

Mouthfeel is medium if not a little thin for what I was expecting. There is very little carbonation at all.

Overall is really good.

Photo of glid02
4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Brick Store during the LA/Port kick-off.

Pours a surprisingly dark brown color with a one-finger cream-colored head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sticky caramel malts with large amounts of vanilla and booze-soaked dark fruits - plums and raisins. Also present are hints of toffee and butterscotch.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Smooth caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by heavy toffee and butterscotch flavors. Midway through the sip the barrels come into play, with moderate amounts of vanilla and boozy brandy notes. Hints of dark fruit flavors come into play near the end of the sip before fading out into a moderately sweet ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a nice thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall I was a fan of this beer and I found the base beer was augmented very well by the barrel. Well worth a shot.

Photo of ggaughan
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I first go to try this bad boy at the GABF but not enough of a sample to give it a proper review. My review comes from the generous samples I got at the Monk's Cafe Lost Abbey beer dinner a few nights ago.

The beer poured a deep brown, slighty amber body with a thick tan, almost redish hugh with some solid lacing around the glass. The nose is a bit malty, sweet and had a touch of wood and the high abve. The taste is complex and has some nice wood notes, high abv which brings out some characteritics of a port or brandy. This is a sipping beer and with a nice full body, I can see why. Another treat from Lost Abbey.

Photo of GilGarp
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at the Cheeky Monk in a tulip glass.

Appearance is very dark brown with no light coming through. The head is about an inch of light brown foam that settles slowly. No lacing.

Aroma is boozy and rich with obvious brandy barrel influence. It has a bit of brown sugar sweetness, red wine acidity, and oak barrel vanilla notes.

Flavor is very intense and unexpectedly good. There is a rich carmamel and chocolate undertones that remind me of a good Belgian quad. The brandy adds a distinct flavor that includes cherries, cabernet, and oak. Tannins pull at the cheeks a little but it's not sour or tart in any way. Great depth and character.

Mouthfeel is medium-plus in body and perfectly carbonated. You can sip this slowly, letting it warm, and enjoy all of the nuances that the barrel aging provides. It coats and sticks to the insides of my mouth like a syrup but it's not cloying. Warming on the way down.

I've seen a lot of ho-hum reviews of this beer but I believe when it's properly carbonated, it can be excellent. It will be interesting to see how the corked bottle in the cellar compares to the tap version.

Photo of asabreed
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12.7 oz bottle into a Brooklyn tulip. 2009 vintage. Cracked on my birthday.

Appearance: A beautiful rich and dark amber color, almost opaque brown without light. But alas, there's no head or retention at all, so of course, as is seemingly now a prerequisite, I'm wondering about the carbonation. But the color's just awesome.

Smell: A huge amount of alcohol initially, but it's tempered with smoke, along with the sweeter brandy flavors, vanilla, toasted oak, plums, brown sugar, and dark caramel. As it gets warmer, the aromas seem to almost congeal a bit more here, setting a nicer balance. A lot of raisins and caramel and vanilla and brandy and dessert-like aromas all over the place. I could see an interesting and rich cake having this aroma too, or a rich cake drizzled with caramel.

Taste: Though it probably goes without saying, this definitely needs to be consumed at room temperature. This is heavily brandy-oriented, and that's one of my favorite things about this. You imagine, or I did, that it would be overly sweet in some sense, but there has to be a balance with the sweetness, and there is. Brandy seems perfect for this, especially with all the balance, mostly with the wood here. Again, this is one of those brews that makes you question the line between what's what. This is certainly a beer, but the influence is heavily noted and understood. What I love is the back-end heat from the alcohol, but as far as the flavors go, there's a lot coming from the barrels: toasted oak, vanilla, caramel, smoke, and the concentrated alcohol sweetness. There's also some nice lingering and layered fruit, vinous characteristics, raisins, plums, and some prunes. A lot of earthiness, in other words, creeps in also. Lingering and complex and unsurprisingly nuanced.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation issues? I don't think so. There's always a burst of creaminess at the back-end, which is thick, but shrouded by the heaviness of the brew. If this thing were more carbonated, you'd lose the nuances with the brandy, which is the focal point here.

Drinkability: The QPR here, initially, can seem like a bit much. But with the care taken to make this brew, I think it's easy to understand how it's so expensive. Today's my birthday, after all, and though other brews could've been cracked open, or this one could've been saved for another year, I just had to try it, and I'm glad I did. There's a lot to admire here. I've had nothing but good experiences so far with Lost Abbey, and I hope to have more in the future. If you're a brandy fan, and you see this, pick up a bottle. In the future, I'm going to do my best to make sure I can get a bottle of the bourbon-barreled version.

Photo of Sammy
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chocolate rules! Here is a barleywine well malted by the includion of quality chocolate, and must lead to an increase in score. Because of the darker look, the sweeter chocolate smell, and of course the Hershey chocolate taste with brandy from the barells. Above average mouthfeel. Better more complex barleywines, Belgiums? Of course. A very expensive choice of $70 bomber all-in at Beerbistro.

Photo of augustgarage
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2009 vintage on-tap at Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood. Served in a Coronado snifter.

Opaque purple-taupe body - pours without a head and just the faintest collar. A swirl creates a tan bruise momentarily as the tiny bubbles try to reach the surface. Highly viscous legs: multiple sheets of clear oily sheen coating the sides.

Rich stewed fruit, distinctive burnt caramel, prunes, and butter creme/toffee aromatics. Brandy is dominant.

Alcohol is aggressive, a mixture of stone fruit esters and pure spirit heat. Grape skins, and leathery, port-like notes intermingle with a bit of pepper and light hops mid-palate. The finish is astringent, tannic, and oak-heavy. Drinks more like a spirit than it does a beer.

Very low carbonation (though there is a tiny amount), somewhat thin (especially considering the ABV), and incredibly dry and hot mouthfeel.

This one would probably be helped with some age in the bottle (reducing the alcohol notes a bit), but I didn't enjoy it enough to bother finding out.

Photo of alovesupreme
4.16/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I think that at this point these bottles are not going to carbonate, this is just a bad batch.
Murky brown substance with both sediment and particles floating throughout. This is actually appealing the rating is due to its complete lack of carbonation which results in absolutely no head. And lets face it, everyone loves good head.
Lots of fantastic aromas including but not limited to, Raisons, molasses,and toffee with a pleasant vinous character probably due to the brandy.
Fig is a primary contributer to the taste. With the sweet candy presence of toffee and a warm finish due to the brandy.
This beer had a full body but no carbonation.
What a great beer this had been. $40 is a lot of money to spend on a defective product. Had this been well carbonated I would do it again but given the circumstances I would like to return my second bottle for a refund.

Photo of zaphodchak
4.48/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Small pour into a snifter. No head, looks like Coke without the fizz.

Smell is grape, wine, leather, mushroom.

Taste is incredibly potent. Rich, faintly spicy, leathery, tastes like tart port. So rich you'd want to sip it, and only a bit, but magnificently complex and full of flavors that expand the definition of beer.

Mouthfeel is almost water, but this is not a bad thing.

Overall remarkable, but even a small bottle is plenty.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.17/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage. Poured from a 375ml corked and caged bottle into a Blue Point snifter.

A: Cork comes out with no pop. Completely flat. Standard pour yields a ring of coarse bubbles that dissipates quickly. Beer is a near opaque dark brown. No lacing.

S: Nose is of brandy, raisins, prunes, and a weird, yet distinct rubbery egg aroma. Thankfully, the brandy covers most of the off flavors.

T: Hints of pineapple, coconut, raisins, prunes, and vanilla. A nice woodiness presides over the deep fruitiness. Hot. Brandy has a large presence throughout. Pleasingly sweet at the finish with a sticky, sugary, and boozy aftertaste.

M: Medium to full bodied, completely flat, very hot, and smooth for its high ABV. Oily, slick, and really saturates the palate. Finish is messy with a lingering aftertaste.

D: Complex no doubt but this beer could really do with a bit of carbonation. Not only to enhance the appearance but also awaken the muted flavors and liven the palate. Alcohol is definitely noticeable even for its high ABV. I'd definitely give this one another chance. With some carbonation and age to tone down the heat, it could no doubt be phenomenal.

Photo of dirtylou
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on-tap, brouwers hard liver festival

appearance: served in an unbranded snifter - dark chocolatey body, thin mocha cap

smell: strong waves of barrel and brandy, dark chocolate, spiced cookies

taste: rich and spicy - potent brandy presence, lots of impact from the barrel, raisins, caramel, nutty, coconut. Pretty wild stuff - nice to sample on tap and avoid the astronomical bottle prices (and sh1tty carbonation issues)

mouthfeel: big and rich - not a barleywine

overall: tasty - more interesting than the bourbon version, but not as good

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The Angel's Share - Brandy Barrel-Aged from The Lost Abbey
86 out of 100 based on 648 ratings.